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15 Impulse Buys from Target to Add to Your Cart While Christmas Shopping

You may not have set out to buy these Target gems for yourself or someone else, but you'll be glad you did.

Karisa Langlo Senior Editor
Karisa Langlo has been writing and editing professionally for over 12 years, joining CNET with two writing degrees and bylines in Milwaukee Magazine, Louisville Magazine and The Masters Review. She started on CNET's mobile team before expanding to all tech and now works across categories to optimize the performance of all CNET advice and storytelling, from Wellness to Money, News and Culture. Karisa also manages strategy for CNET's Tips franchise.
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  • Over a decade of writing and editing experience
Karisa Langlo
3 min read

It's inevitable. Every time I run into Target for a gallon of milk or a few rolls of toilet paper, I somehow find myself in the checkout line an hour later buying, I don't know, a bottle of nail polish and a lamp. 

Impulse purchasing is part of Target's whole vibe. I need paper plates? Why not also buy a throw blanket? Popping in for a bottle of wine? Don't forget the giant dance-on piano. Buying clothes? I also need food. Buying food? I suddenly also need clothes. And so it goes.

If you're like me, you welcome these impulse buys for the delightful surprise they are. How else would you know Target sells some of the most awesome socks on the planet? (More on that below.) Here are some affordable-yet-splurge-worthy Target items I definitely, certainly don't need but was absolutely tempted to add to my cart. Plus, here's a roundup of tips for saving a little extra while holiday shopping at Target. And here's how to save money on shipping costs at Target and elsewhere this holiday season.

For more, here are 10 kitchen items we're obsessed with and seven socks that make your current pair look like trash.

1. Pearlescent pen holder

A great addition to any work-from-home desk selfie: This modern pen holder adds a subtle pastel sheen to your desk setup, and it sure beats that can of black beans your kid decorated at camp.

2. Papermate 24-pack of felt tip pens

Are colored pens the ultimate impulse purchase? I think so. Just imagine how much better your grocery lists, thank-you letters and notes to self will look in technicolor.

3. Electric popcorn maker

Just pop one of these into your shopping cart as you imagine the upgraded movie nights to come in 2023. It'll look pretty on your kitchen counter, too.

4. Days of the week hair pins

Like days of the week underwear, you may end up wearing your Thursday hair pin on Monday -- and it'll be anyone's guess whether you did so on purpose.

5. Faux fiddle leaf fig

Grab Instagram's favorite plant in a classy gold raised planter. Bonus: This one doesn't need any water.

6. Etch A Sketch Freestyle

The Etch A Sketch has been given a 21st-century makeover and now produces rainbow-colored lines and uses a stylus. (This two-in-one works like a pen and a "paintbrush.") It's a lot less frustrating than the original's two white knobs.

7. Sudski shower beer holder

No one needs one; everyone could use one. Even if you don't typically say "hold my beer" while bathing, you'll inevitably find a use for this wall-mounted holster. I use mine to hold my phone so I can listen to podcasts. (This is normal, right?)

8. Set of 3 glitter Christmas trees

If your mantel is slowly turning into a bottle brush forest, what's three more trees? These bottle brush trees come in nine colors not found in nature, with a festive glittery sheen that you can pretty much only get away with this time of year. 

9. Caboodles makeup carrier

I could kick myself for getting rid of my '90s-era Caboodles carrier back in college. Or... I could just buy a new one from Target.

10. 15 pairs of Marvel socks

Spiderman, Hulk and the rest of the MCU will always be in our hearts. And also on our feet.

11. Rainbow neon wall decor

Insider tip: Target's Pillowfort brand of kids' room decor is full of whimsical gems for the color-loving adult, too. 

12. Heated neck and shoulder massager

Relieve the stress that's been accumulating all year with a Sharper Image massager that can be heated in the microwave or cooled in the freezer.

13. Telestrations board game

Hot take: Telestrations could beat Cards Against Humanity in a fight. I know from experience that this game yields at least a 310% lift in family time enjoyment. 

14. Crewneck pullover sweater

A sweater for only $12? This next sentence is untrue, but: You'd actually lose money by not buying this.

15. Balsam Fir 2-wick candle

I buy a new version of this candle every year and burn it all season long. It smells like a real Christmas tree, which makes setting up a fake one a little more tolerable.

For more shopping advice and gift ideas, check out our curated list of the best holiday gifts under $25 (and the best under $50). Plus, white elephant gifts that never fail and the kitchen tools we personally recommend.